Oh boy. If you’re in the blogging world, you’ve probably come across the term ‘no follow’ links before. AMIRITE? At first sight many of us would look on in confusion, probably with a slight brow furrow as if to say, ‘What the fudge?’. Don’t worry, the difference between a follow link and a no follow link isn’t obvious to begin with, so you’re not expected to know exactly what they mean. But trust me when I say it’s easy to understand and play along with once you have the know-how.
In today’s post I’m going to explain what a follow link is and what a no follow link is. Then, I’m going to tell you when it’s best practice to use either one on your blog. Then, I’ll show you how to make a link a no follow link. Let’s get started.
What’s a Follow Link?
To better understand the logic behind these two types of links, it’s better that you have a somewhat basic understanding of SEO and what value links offer to a site. When you link to a page on another site, that site benefits from that link you’ve provided them with. I’ve been working in marketing for two years now and I know well enough that us marketers refer to this beneficial action as ‘SEO juice’ – it essentially gives them a little push up the SEO ladder*. Therefore, a follow link is what gives the page you’re linking to, a boost. Capiche?
What’s a No Follow Link?
A no follow link is the opposite to this. If you place a no follow link which directs to a page on another site, that site receives nothing from you regarding SEO juice. It simply sends traffic to their site, but gives them no boost in rankings. Below is how to make a link a no follow link:
<a href=”http://www.coffeeandblogging.co.uk/” rel=”nofollow”>Coffee & Blogging</a>
When you view your page or post in HTML view, you will view your no follow link like the one above. If a link were a follow link, it would just look like the one below:
<a href=”http://www.coffeeandblogging.co.uk/”>Coffee & Blogging</a>
A follow link simply doesn’t contain the rel=”nofollow” attribute and is just the default hyperlink when you first add a link to a page/post. Adding this attribute to make a no follow link does nothing in terms of the links performance – it’ll still click through to where you’ve asked it to and it’ll look no different to the front user. In basic terms, when you place the above attribute into a hyperlink, you’re telling search engines to ignore any value that link would’ve originally given a site. Are you with me still?
When would you use a No Follow Link?
Good question. In the world of blogging it’s important these days to understand when you should be using a no follow link. To make it clear, when inter-linking to other pages and posts on your own blog, always use your standard follow link. Cross-linking within your blog does not tie-in with this section and does not require no follow links.
Google makes it crystal clear within its guidelines that any link within a sponsored post is redeemed ‘paid for’. Therefore that link should be made no follow. So, let me put it this way: have you ever had an agency contact you with this ‘amazing‘ opportunity to offer you £30 or less to place a follow link onto your blog to their client? I think a vast majority of bloggers reading this can admit they’ve received something along those lines.
Agencies are perfectly aware of the consequences of combining follow links and paid work (I explain this below), but are willing to take the risk. Mainly it’s because their client knows no different and should be reading this post, but agencies simply request what their client wants.
Therefore, if you have been paid to write content which includes a link someone has requested from you, you should be making the link a no follow. The same applies if you’ve been gifted a product. If you’ve written a review of a gifted product – it doesn’t matter that you received no payment, as the product will have monetary value to it – the link you place within your review should also be no follow.
On the plus side, not every link that leaves your blog needs to be no follow. If it’s a link related to paid work or a gifted review so to speak, it is a no follow link you should be opting for. However, if you’re simply talking about something you have produced organically and want to link to another page/post from someone else that is highly relevant, by all means make this a follow link. Google will see this as highly relevant, so will accept it.
The Consequences of Not Using a No Follow Link within Paid Posts
I briefly mentioned above that there are potential consequences to using a follow link within a post that’s been paid to be produced, or a review for a gifted product. Now, don’t stress, you’re not breaking the law if you do decide to opt for a follow link in this situation. You’ll find professional bloggers who know more about this than me will accept follow links for the right money. Personally, no kind of money will make me risk the hard work I’ve put into this blog. If you don’t want to take the risk either, take note:
If you’d rather hear it from Google themselves, you can view their guidelines here. But, simply put, if Google does happen to not like how you’re handling your links and believes you’re going against its guidelines, they will simply remove you from their search engine. ouch. This doesn’t mean your blog vanishes or gets deleted, it just means you will no longer show on Google. Therefore, if you used to rank on the first page for certain keywords, you can kiss that achievement goodbye. If the above does happen to you, you will be able to get yourself back onto Google, but it’s going to take a lot of time and trust!
*Note: if you go crazy with trying to secure backlinks from anywhere and everywhere, this will be seen as spam by Google. You need to be strict with where you generate backlinks from. Consider sites that are relevant to your content, but also that have a higher DA (domain authority) than your own site.
I hope this helps you out in some way or another. I was once completely new to all of this, but working in marketing definitely helps – hence why I want to share what I’ve learned (learnt? I still have no clue) to date.